WAVERLY – A big pledge from a business with local roots helped the Waverly Aquatic Center fund over its first fundraising hurdle.
Horizon Bank, which has its charter office in Waverly, presented a pledge for $500,000 to the Great Waverly Area Foundation Fund last week. The money will go toward replacing the city’s aging pool with an aquatic center.
Horizon Bank President Greg Dunlap said the financial institution gave the money as a way to invest back into the community.
“Our desire is to help the community here that has been so supportive of us,” he said.
The pledge from Horizon Bank helped put the GWAFF over the initial monetary goal set by the organization, said Kris Bohac, chairperson of the aquatic center committee and vice president of the GWAFF.
The organization set a goal of $562,000, the maximum amount that can be matched through the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
The fundraising campaign for the proposed aquatic center began last summer as local officials began an effort to replace the city’s aging pool. In June, the GWAFF and Waverly Ctiy council held a town hall meeting to discuss the project.
“The main thing is the pool was built in 1975,” said Bohac.
Engineers told those gathered at the town hall meeting that the typical lifespan for a pool like the one in Waverly is 40 years. Although maintained well, the aging structure has been showing its age in recent years, the audience was told.
Capacity is also an issue. The current pool holds only about 200 people, and demand is greater than that at peak times, officials said. The proposed aquatic center would hold more than twice that amount of people.
During the town hall meeting, the public weighed in on the location of the proposed facility. Of five proposed sites, the majority of those in attendance chose to place the aquatic center in Wayne Park.
Today’s families want a facility that is more than a place to swim, like the current pool, said Bohac.
“It really doesn’t have any of the amenities people want,” she said.
A vote by the public during the town hall meeting showed the top choice was a low diving board, followed by a play structure, moving water feature, interactive play and family slides.
In August, the GWAFF presented a conceptual design of the proposed facility during a block party called the Splash Bash. The 75 people who attended learned the aquatic center will be located just south of the current pool and will cost between $4 to 5 million to build.
The design for the 8,500 square-foot facility includes amenities like diving boards, water slides, a lazy river and splash area. Construction is expected to begin after the 2020 pool season concludes.
While Horizon Bank’s donation of $500,000 put the fundraising total well over it initial goal, Bohac said they are grateful for every dollar they have received in the first few months of their campaign. In October, Watts Electric Company pledged $100,000, while the Waverly Community Fund has promised $10,000. On Giving Tuesday (Dec. 3), a total of $22,000 was donated by the public, Bohac added.
Bohac said the GWAFF is partnering with the City of Waverly, which owns the pool, in the fundraising effort. She expects that along with grants, there will likely be a bond issue and sales tax initiative put before voters to fund the project.
The GWAFF was formed about 10 years ago to raise money for community projects, Bohac said. The organization has worked on improvement projects at the city parks, is working to raise money for a new library and has focused on replacement of artificial turf on the Waverly High School athletic field.
“The GWAFF exists to help raise funds for all kinds of amenities,” said Bohac. “If we succeed with a project like the pool, then hopefully it will make us more known for fundraising projects down the road.”